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Whitbread Log: Leg 5, Auckland to São Sebastião
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  Both the wind and the current have turned against us. A small but stubborn low has set up on the coast south of Montivideo.
Day 20 - Feb. 20, 1998

Report #1

0125 GMT
38° 58'S, 052° 53'W

Miles to São Sebastião: 983

Place: 1st; distance ahead of 2nd-place boat: 613 miles

From: Mark Rudiger, Navigator, EF Language

Changes in Latitudes, Changes in attitudes ...

Normally, when sailing into warmer latitudes, the attitudes get better. For us it seems a little the other way today.

We have been reaching along with good speed at the mark, helped by the north-flowing Falkland current. Today that came to an abrupt end. Both the wind and the current have turned against us. A small but stubborn low has set up on the coast south of Montivideo, and while OK angle on starboard, it puts us into the now southerly warm-water Brazilian current.

The colliding of the two currents, along with strong NE winds, have made it very rough. Our first real pothole since the Horn and an area where we have to be extra careful due to heavy pounding.

So, now we are heading out on port again, 100 degrees from the finish, and need to sail into a header awhile to make sure we don't fall back into a trap on starboard. A time when a lot of patience is required. At least we have wind to make some choices with.

Looking at the different weather models we have to work with, it would be pretty stressful right now if we had four other boats close by to race. One model says winds going to east offshore, one says going to the west, one says northeast. That, combined with trying to nail down a very complex current, would cause some nail-biting skeds.

Roger Badham, our weather Guru, warned us it would be volatile here and at this stage safer offshore. We are cashing in some chips now to head that way 'cause it don't feel so good here. As I'm writing, the wind is heading us and seas flattening some. But the water temp. is still rising to 66°F, 19°C, so I think we need to carry on, even though painful.

Just checking the midnight sked, we put a 12 oz. can of "woop ass" on the B fleet, so it's still more painful down there. Chessie is roaring up their tailpipes and is in a possible outside passing lane, while Brunel outside the Falklands came to a halt. It just goes to show you how in this game it's never over 'til it's over.

The other good news is the warm water means warmer air, so not so painful at night. Under 1,000 miles to go by next sked . . . Only 1,000 miles. Sounds kind of strange, "ONLY" 1,000 miles.

Mark Rudiger  
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Leg 5 positions at 1200 GMT today:
  1. EF Language (P. Cayard, skipper)
  2. BrunelSunergy
  3. Innovation Kvaerner
  4. Merit Cup
  5. Swedish Match
  6. Chessie Racing
  7. Toshiba
  8. Silk Cut
  9. EF Education
* Aggregate points total, including points scored for the first, second, third and fourth legs and points for the fifth leg according to current positions.

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